Of the 16 judges sitting in the borough’s family court, only one is African-American and one is Hispanic.
By Stephen Witt
“We’ve now collected a year’s worth of data demonstrating how the impact of heavy-handed policing in city schools falls squarely on the shoulders of black students and young men, who are being subjected to a disproportionate number of arrests at school,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “If the Bloomberg administration is serious about helping young men of color succeed, then it must address these disparities and focus more resources on educating children, not arresting them.”
The legal organization recently found that the NYPD School Safety Division personnel arrested or ticketed more than 11 students each day in New York City public schools during the 2011-12 school year. More than 95 percent of the arrests were of black or Latino students; 74 percent were of males; and 1-in-5 was of students between the ages of 11 and 14.
Currently of the 16 judges sitting in the borough’s family court, only one is African-American and one is Hispanic.
As of press time, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) did not respond to inquiries regarding the lack of diversity on the Kings County Family Court bench.
Both the city’s Family Court and criminal court judges are mayoral appointments, although the state’s court system can also assign judges elected to preside over state, civil and Supreme Courts to criminal and Family Court as needed.
In Brooklyn, which is more than a third black, the only African-American sitting on the Family Court Bench is recently elected Manhattan Civil Court Judge William Franc Perry, who was appointed to Kings County Family Court earlier this year by New York State Unified Court System Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti.
Of the 20 judicial appointments that Mayor Bloomberg has made to the city’s Family Courts, only one was African-American, this paper has learned.
That one Bloomberg appointee is Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, who was appointed in 2003 and works in Queens Family Court. She is the only African-American judge of 11 in Queens Family Court.
Family Court judges hear a range of legal issues, including child abuse and neglect (child protection), adoption, child custody and visitation, domestic violence, guardianship, juvenile delinquency, paternity, persons in need of supervision (PINS) and child support.
A “juvenile delinquent” is someone at least 7 but less than 16 years old who commits an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult and is found to be in need of “supervision, treatment or confinement.”
Both Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association have recently called for more diversity in Brooklyn’s family court.